LOOKING TO PRAISE AND WORSHIP JESUS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. 18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Blessed are the poor in spirit

Matthew 5:3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount by pronouncing a blessing on a particular group of people. This is not a universal blessing to all people. This divine blessing is the fantastic good news of eternal life in the kingdom of heaven. These blessed people are the redeemed sinners that Jesus came to earth to save by his sacrificial atonement on the cross of Calvary. They have been born again and washed by the blood of the Lamb. They are justified, adopted sons of God with a new attitude and new characteristics.

How does Jesus describe these people? Does he describe them by temporal blessings such as health, wealth, power, popularity, beauty, and other attributes that men cherish? Does he describe them as having great self-esteem that the culture of today thinks is so essential to happiness? No, the first characteristic Jesus mentions is that redeemed sinners are poor in spirit. Why? With a new heart of flesh, regenerated sinners have an increased awareness of their sin and also God’s holiness and righteousness. This causes them to realize exactly how spiritually poor they are in light of the awesome attributes of God. With the Holy Spirit indwelling them, the redeemed have encountered the reality check to end all reality checks. They can see with clarity that they are not “basically good” as the world asserts but, instead, fall far short of the glory and righteousness of God. This realization leads them to the foot of the cross with an understanding that they are indeed poor, in poverty and in great need of spiritual renovation.

Praise God that Jesus saves completely and the redeemed will inherit an eternal kingdom and not a worldly fantasy magic kingdom that is but an illusion.

12 Comments:

Blogger Antonio said...

Wayne, why have you supposed that the beatitudes are for those who simply are redeemed? Seems to me that these are pronouncements of blessing upon people based upon merit. In fact, look at the list of meritorious characteristics found in these beatitudes:

poor in spirit
those who mourn
meek
those who hunger and thirst for righteousness
merciful
pure in heart
peacemakers
those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake

At the end of the beatitudes, Jesus says this:

Matt 5:12
12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven
NKJV

the Greek word for reward is misthos, which simply means a PAYMENT for SERVICE, reward.

Unless you believe that heaven is attained by works, in other words, as a payment for service, I would suggest you reconsider your interpretation of the beatitudes, for they are inherently blessings pronounced upon people based upon their godly characteristics and actions, not based upon any fact of their simple redemption.

Many times in the New Testament blessing (Gk makarios) is pronounced upon people because of their deeds.

Not only do you have the presupposition that this is talking about blessings of those who are redeemed for they will invariably be poor in spirit, peacemakers, reviled, etc, (which proves to be wrong when viewed in the context of Matt 5:12), you have equated and identified simply being redeemed or saved with inheriting the kingdom. What justification do you have for this?

Jesus states that in order for one to "see" and "enter" the kingdom they must be born again through faith (see John 3). So mere entrance is conditioned on faith alone. But everywhere, inheritance of the kingdom is based upon deeds, in other words, merit.

I think it is highly gratuitous of you to identify inheriting the kingdom with simply being saved.

Antonio

August 15, 2007 8:50 PM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Antonio,
You stated………
Wayne, why have you supposed that the beatitudes are for those who simply are redeemed? Seems to me that these are pronouncements of blessing upon people based upon merit. In fact, look at the list of meritorious characteristics found in these beatitudes:
The beatitudes give a picture of what a Christian looks like. They are characteristics of a Christian. Jesus is not telling his disciples the way to earn their way into the kingdom. Notice he says “blessed are…….” And not “You will be blessed if……” Those he is describing are already redeemed, saved, Christians and Christ is describing them and pronouncing a blessing on them. I did not post this to refute Free Grace theology, but it does that and it is devastating because Jesus himself describes the attributes of a Christian. The born again Christian that Jesus describes looks absolutely nothing like the characteristics of some the so-called free grace Christians that I have seen described.

For example: You have stated that a person can deny the triune God of the Bible. Affirm a belief in a false God (Allah of the Koran) as the one and only true God. Believe that human beings are gods and that Jesus is a lesser god than Allah and yet still be saved if they believe that Jesus guarantees them eternal life.

This is hardly the attributes that Jesus is describing in the beatitudes.

The reward you mention in verse 12a applies to those who are persecuted in v. 11 and this is clarified in the last part of verse 12 which you left out.

Later you state that to see the kingdom Jesus states that one must be born again through faith. Actually it does not say that at all. Jesus is very clear that one must be born again before he can see the kingdom of God and faith is not mentioned. Regeneration precedes faith and is a supernatural act of God. Regeneration is not something man achieves for himself by first acquiring faith. Your foundation is faulty on this crucial point. After a person is divinely enabled by regeneration then he willingly comes to faith in Christ (John 6:65). You are right that salvation is by faith alone and not by merit.
Wayne

August 15, 2007 10:58 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

poor in spirit
those who mourn
meek
those who hunger and thirst for righteousness
merciful
pure in heart
peacemakers
those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake

Every one of the above is IMPOSSIBLE without regeneration. The above are descriptions of those regenerated, and the exact opposite of those unregenerate. Here the King is laying out the characteristics of His subjects.

Mark

August 16, 2007 7:32 AM

 
Blogger donsands said...

Good post. It's spot on. I was reading it and saying to myself how beatiful the truth is, and and how pure and simple it is, when we understand it's all about His mercy and grace, and not us.

It's all about God. And these words give Him all the glory.
Thanks Wayne.

I am what I am by the grace of God. If I am meek, it's by His grace. If I am poor in spirit, then it's by His grace.

Jesus chose me. I didn't choose Him.
And He is the vine, I'm simply a branch bearing fruit by His grace.

Though we surely will receive rewards, they are ultimately and totally by His grace.

Gos will not share His glory with His creation.
And yet He does glorify us for His glory.

August 16, 2007 9:02 AM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Don,
Beautifully said!

August 16, 2007 10:15 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Those systems that say that the kingdom is entirely future look at the beatitudes in an entirely different way than most of the rest of Christianity. Even Blaising and Bock, dispensationalists one and all, hold that the kingdom is both now and not yet. The present stage, in their view, is the church or Holy Spirit phase.

August 16, 2007 10:19 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Excellent, excellent post and comments. Wayne, your understanding is right on!
It took me a long time to understand (and still learning) the beatitudes.
"Poor in spirit" just escaped my radar screen. I couldn't figure it out so I didn't try.
Max Lucado has a book (The Applause of Heaven) that I read, which explains the beatitudes verse after verse what you did so concisely and eloquently here.
I'm still learning that anything I have and everything I am - any grace or mercy coming from me, the faith I have - is all a gift from Him to me. I have *nothing* about which I can boast, save the Lord. I can only plead with Him daily to increase the grace and mercy bestowed upon me inside of myself that I may extend it to others.
The more I learn about Him, the more I learn how great I lack - other than what He grants. Truly blessed are the poor (lacking) in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Wow.
And blessed are those who mourn – mourn in godly repentance for their sins. Not for the earthly understanding of this verse – as I used to think – mourning after dead relatives or friends. But mourn for their own state as sinners in rebellion against God.
Or am I jumping into the next post here?
Wayne, thanks for this. It is most encouraging.

August 16, 2007 11:24 AM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Mark,
I am amazed at how some come up with their conclusions.

Susan,
Yes, I am planning on doing a series on all the beatitudes...

Since I only use my own photos and try not to re-cycle the same ones, it is getting harder and harder to find my photos for illustration.

August 16, 2007 11:30 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Not even all of dispensationalism hold to the views displayed in the first comment.

August 16, 2007 11:45 AM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Susan, Mark, and BC Clan,
I did not mean to imply an uninterrupted series on the beatitudes. I will post in turn.
wayne

August 16, 2007 9:07 PM

 
Blogger Marcian said...

Wayne, I am looking forward to this series on the beatitudes. I enjoyed your phrase "reality check to end all reality checks". I couldn't have put that better.

Don, well said, indeed.

Susan, I too, am still learning that everything I am or have is from Him. I know this in my head, by reason through His revealed Word in scripture. But I don't always act on it. I wrote a post titled "I want to see it!" about just how magnificently awesome His patience MUST be with me as I still struggle with pride and a host of other spiritual ills. As I climb the mountain toward spiritual maturity, there is only One who could possibly be guiding and leading me through the impassible stretches.

August 16, 2007 10:05 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Wayne,
As Frasier says on his show, "I'm listening."
:-)

August 16, 2007 10:28 PM

 

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